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How to Sell Like Warren Buffett by Tripp Braden

Today’s post is from Tripp Braden.  Tripp helps clients translate their business strategy into action by developing stronger partnerships and business development systems for leading midmarket and mission driven entrepreneurs. He shares weekly blogs on effective management, results focused marketing, and how to leverage your best partnerships at Market Leadership Journal at and Developing Serving Leaders at .

I started my career selling for a business that Warren Buffett bought, Kirby.  The Kirby Vacuum Cleaning system sold for $1000 each in 1984.  Since then, I have worked with over 15 divisions of Berkshire Hathaway in my career. I’m a huge fan of how Warren builds organizations. I’m also a fan of how he sells and deals with others. He owns several furniture businesses, including Nebraska Furniture Mart and Jordan’s Furniture.  I can hear you saying, “Warren Buffett doesn’t have to sell anything.”  Well, he does and he understands the three key elements that can help your furniture sales career take off. If you read his biography or spend any time around his different leadership teams, you quickly understand Warren Buffett is a master of influence and persuasion.  He started his career selling pinball machines as a young man many years ago and today he sells his Berkshire Hathaway shares for thousands of dollars per share.  So let’s see how he can help you be a better sales person starting today.

The first secret of Warren Buffett’s sales success is he believes in what he sells in. He’s a strong advocate for all the brands he owns and that he invests in. To be a great sales professional you must believe in what you sell. If you don’t believe in the products and services you sell, find something else to sell. Mr. Buffett is constantly seen drinking Cherry Coke, buying GEICO Insurance, and eating at Dairy Queen.  He understands that his role as CEO is to present his products and services in their best light. When he visits his many organizations, it reminds me of Sam Walton when he would visit his stores. His attitude is contagious.  Many sales professionals I’ve interviewed in the past have told me all the reasons they didn’t like the products or services they sold. If you’re working in a tough competitive market, and most of us are, your first edge will come from selling something you believe in.  There are few people who can fool us all of the time. Sell only the products and services you believe in.

The second secret of Mr. Buffett’s sales success is he knows how to make timing work. I know Warren is a constant watcher of human behavior. He doesn’t do hostile takeovers, but he is willing to wait for the owners to decide when the best time is to sell. He has learned how to work people through a slower sales process while also seizing on when the person is ready to sell. Many of his multi-billion dollar deals have closed in less than 60 days. He lets the people know he’s looking out for their best interests by asking well thought out questions and knowing when it’s best for them to close the deal. He also makes the pain of change less uncomfortable by setting up the right conditions to get the deal completed. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask early and often without looking too aggressive, if my experience in buying and selling big ticket items is true. I feel very disappointed when people don’t ask me to buy once they convince me I need the product. Don’t be afraid to ask why your customer is buying today. Holidays, weddings, anniversaries, and birthdays are great opportunities to close business today when you’re on the selling floor. I love to buy and don’t even mind being sold. But you will lose me as a customer if you don’t try to get me to take action the day we meet.  Use birthdays, anniversaries, and other dates to stay in touch with prospects.  These are natural buying times for many of your clients and customers.

The third secret of Warren’s sales success is he never appears to need a deal today. Have you ever met a desperate sales person?  How did they make you feel?  Warren has mastered the balance between wanting to get a deal done and waiting for the best time to close the deal for the customer. If you’ve asked the right questions, you know when the customer is ready to go. It’s your job to listen to both the verbal and nonverbal cues to know the right time to close. You should try to judge if the deal will close that day. Don’t oversell once the customer has decided to buy. Confirm they would like to move ahead and then do what’s needed to get the product delivered in a way that exceeds your customer’s expectations. Get the order and keep moving forward. You cannot get an order if you don’t ask.  Help lead your customer to the right decision. You both will be glad you did.

Finally, and as an added bonus, if you want to sell like Warren Buffett, know who your best customers are and aren’t. Warren can tell you what he wants to buy in his sleep. We can talk about that in another blog.  You should know what kinds of people buy from you and why. Then look for more opportunities to find those customers.  When I sold in retail, I would review my fellow salespersons account lists and customers to find out who they might have that would fit my sales profile. I’d ask if they were following up with those customers to check in and ask for referrals. Most weren’t and gladly asked me to follow up. I’d call the customer and split the deal with the salesperson to make sure we got the customer back in the store.  I also asked the customers for referrals because the sales person wouldn’t. That extra question made me the number one sales person out of 2000 for an established 60 year old retail business in less than 90 days.

Now go out and get a Blizzard from Dairy Queen and let’s get started doing deals like Warren Buffett today. See you there.


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Comments (5)

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  1. Pete Primeau says:

    Thanks Tripp! Great Article!

  2. Tripp Braden says:

    Thanks Pete. I’m glad I can share what I’ve learned from Warren to help other business owners. Thanks for the opportunity to write a guest blog

  3. Allen Landau says:

    Very well put. From what Ive seen of Mr. Buffett this fits very well. Great Article.

  4. Bill Fields says:

    YOur sign up is not working:

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    Pete Primeau’s Free Weekly Ezine is loaded with sales training, success stories, Q&A with Pete, as well as guest columns from experts in our industry.

    Great stuff. Never forget to ask for the order then learning when and how. Add the Golden Rule and you cannot fail.

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